The Bronson 2.1 Carbon S complete mountain bike takes one of the most beloved trail bikes of the modern era and dresses it in components that offer nearly identical performance to the top level builds at a much more modest asking price. The combination of 27.5-inch wheels, a generous 6in of VPP travel, and a build kit that features a hard-charging suspension package and SRAM's groundbreaking GX Eagle drivetrain makes for a truly potent mix in nearly any terrain.
From its inception, the Bronson has been a bike that’s defied convention. And just like its predecessor, the latest Bronson packs a wallop courtesy of its generous but measured suspension travel, as well as its nimble geometry and 27.5-inch wheels. Equally capable as an enduro racer or an extremely versatile trail bike, there’s very little that the Bronson doesn’t do exceptionally well.
A large part of the formula is, of course, the Bronson’s 6in of VPP suspension. As with all VPP bikes, the Bronson’s counter-rotating links are carefully arranged to resist activation by pedaling forces, all but eliminating unwanted bobbing under power. This being the latest iteration of VPP, it’s tuned to provide more midstroke support than previous generations of the VPP platform, giving the rider a better feel for the terrain, and a livelier ride feel. It’s a balance that Santa Cruz has mastered, allowing for the requisite efficiency for all-day rides, while still taking advantage of sufficient travel to tackle the hardest trails you could possibly hope to find.
When comparing the Bronson’s geometry to those of some of its noteworthy competitors, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Bronson appears conservative on paper. As is the case with much of Santa Cruz’s lineup, the goal with the Bronson is excellence, not extremity. The 66-degree head angle provides the necessary stability for charging full-bore into enduro race stages, while remaining quick enough to change direction to be forgiving should you mistakenly find yourself on a poorly-chosen line. At 17 inches, the chainstays strike a nice balance between being short enough to turn quickly, and long enough to maintain weight on the front wheel, especially when hanging off the back in steep chutes. At 13.4 inches, its bottom bracket height is plenty low to remain planted in huge berms and off camber corners, but it’s just high enough to minimize the risk of pedal strikes. While there are other bikes that are longer, slacker, and lower, the Bronson is all about balance, a trait that it has by the truckload. And the upshot is that the Bronson delivers just about anywhere you take it.
The Bronson is built using Santa Cruz’s C carbon fiber construction. Although it's not quite as lightweight as Santa Cruz's premium CC carbon fiber construction, the C level carbon fiber frames offer exactly the same amount of strength and stiffness as their CC counterparts, at a weight penalty of roughly 240g. The upshot is that you get the legendary durability and ride quality of Santa Cruz carbon frames, at a much more palatable price.
The value-packed S build begins with a worthy suspension package from Fox: a 36 Performance fork and the new FLOAT DPS Performance air shock. This setup offers a supple stroke, on-the-fly adjustments at the flip of a lever, and easy tuning for both suspension gurus and those less experienced. SRAM’s exceptional GX Eagle 12 speed groupset provides the enormous gear range required for grueling climbs, while the Guide R brakes provide modulation and control in the face of unpredictable terrain. The RockShox Reverb dropper post enables the necessary on-the-fly saddle height adjustment. The Bronson S rolls on a hand built wheelset comprised of tubeless-ready Race Face AR 27 rims laced to Novatech hubs.
- A classic enduro sled gets updated for more speed
- 6in of efficient, enduro-tuned VPP suspension
- Longer reach shifts weight forward for better traction
- 74-degree seat tube angle optimizes pedaling efficiency
- Carbon C frame is stiff and durable
- GX Eagle drivetrain features an extra wide gear ratio